Where is Heritage Hill Historical Park?


Heritage Hill Historical Park is part of 60,000 acres of parkland, open space and shoreline set aside by Orange County, California for recreational use. Tucked away between a shopping center and riding stable in Lake Forest, this 4.1 acre oasis illustrates the early history of the Saddleback Valley and El Toro area, focusing on the Mexican Rancho era.


History of Heritage Hill Historical Park


The Serrano Adobe at Heritage Hill HIstorical Park


The centerpiece of the park is the Serrano Adobe, which was built by Don Jose Serrano’s family on land granted to the family by the Mexican government in the 1840s. The home was privately owned until 1969, when Mr. and Mrs. V.P. Baker sold the 5,000 acre ranch. One stipulation to the sale was the donation of the Serrano Adobe to a public agency so it could be preserved. The county set aside 4.1 acres surrounding the home for the development of the county’s first historical park. It opened in 1981.


El Toro church and school at Heritage Hill Historical Park


Today, Heritage Hill Historical Park is home to the Serrano Adobe, and thanks to the Saddleback Area Historical Society, several structures from the old town of El Toro that disappeared when the area was developed during the 1970s. These structures include the first church, St. Geroge’s Episcopal Mission (1891), where you can see most of its original furnishings, including a reed organ; the first schoolhouse, the El Toro Grammar School (1890), where children in grades 1 – 8 were taught in one room; and the Harvey Bennett Ranch House (1908).


Bennett Ranch at Heritage Hill HIstorical Park


Visiting Heritage Hill Historical Park


Heritage Hill offers a glimpse into the beginnings of the area; its people and their way of life. Visitors experience several periods of historical development, from the rancho period to the early English immigrants, while enjoying a guided tour through the buildings conducted by a volunteer docent.


The park offers programming for schools, too. A Living History program that allows students to experience a typical school day around the turn of the 20th century is available to fourth graders. Third graders can enjoy a Hands-on program through activities at each historic building. A Native American tour features a visit to the Indian village exhibit where all elementary schoolchildren learn about the life of the ‘People and Land before 1769.’


If you visit Orange County, don’t miss this chance to experience a bit of the past by visiting Heritage Hill Historical Park. Admission is free for individuals and groups of seven or less.

interior of Serrano Adobe bedroom at Heritage HIll HIstorical Park



Heritage Hill Historical Park: http://ocparks.com/historic/heritage/

Heritage Hill Historical Park Day Trip: http://www.daytrippen.com/heriatge-hill-park-lake-forest.html